Friday, 15 March 2013

Calmed down

The nurse yesterday was very reassuring.  She told me that they were only recently using the patches however, they have been finding that people get a fairly good dose from them.   She said we should wait until tomorrow and see what the blood work says.   She wasn't worried about where I had been applying them.  She said the upper arm was mostly for convenience.

I won't know until at least Monday what the results of the blood work will be.

I was so mad at myself, as you could probably tell.  Your comments helped to calm me down.  Thank you.   It's nice to have this little corner of cyber space to vent.

Yesterday, I took a me day.  I did some retail therapy combined with a pedicure.  I found some deals that I was happy about.  I went to my exercise class in the evening.   It worked.  I feel pretty good today.

Thanks again for all of the kind words.  Hope you all have a peaceful weekend.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

I could cry, vomit and scream

I messed up on my meds.  (Insert just about every swear word I have ever learned here).

The testosterone patches are supposed to be put on at 9pm and removed at 9am.

Today when I removed my patch something different happened.  A little silver foil circle  remained stuck to my body.  Before this I never even noticed the foil circle part.

Cue freak out.

It seems there are two layers of the patch that need to be removed.  First the plastic backing. Then the little foil part to expose the reservoir of medication (which is also under a thin plastic coating).

I rummaged through the garbage to see if the other patches I took off looked like this one - was the foil attached to the plastic backing or did it remain on the patch, blocking all of the medicine from being absorbed?

Yesterday was garbage day so I really didn't have much to go on.  I found only one patch.  It had the foil part removed.

I went back to read the directions, asking myself "How the F did I miss this?!!!!" The directions mention the foil part.  Then I went back to read my directions from CCRM.  And to add insult to injury I read that it needs to be applied to the upper arm.  I had been following the package insert directions and applying it to my abdomen and upper thigh, rotating it around each night because the adhesive irritates my skin.

I immediately put on another patch for today  because I know I definitely didn't get my dose last night.  This time, the foil center came off with the plastic backing.  So now I really have no idea of how much testosterone I was actually getting.  Was yesterday just a fluke?  I honestly can't remember seeing the foil backing stuck on like that before - but I totally wasn't looking for that or paying attention either.  I wish that we had not put our garbage out.  I would go through every bag to get to the bottom of this.  Gross but necessary.

Maybe this is why I haven't had many side effects from the testosterone!

I called the nurses to tell them what has happened, and I'm waiting for their return call.  I have blood work tomorrow. I think the nurses will tell me to see what the blood work shows and go from there.

I am so freaking mad at myself.  How was I not more careful?!!! This is a big deal.

If they delay us a month I'll be pissed at myself.  If they don't delay us I'll question whether this cycle was compromised.

Update - I just found two more patches in the garbage.  They had the foil part removed.  That means that two of the last three days were ok.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Seeing the future

Someone posted something on yesterday and it reminded me of something.

It's a weird random story.  And it's also not so random because it is something I think may be also contributing to the somewhat hopeful phase that I'm in right now.

Disclaimer - A) I am a Christian.  B) I don't know really what I think about tarot card and other psychic readings even though I've had three experiences.  I think they can mean something, but not everything if that makes any sense.  C) And, I don't know what I think about A & B put together.  It makes my head hurt.  I try to keep an open mind.

The Abbreviated Story:

Several years ago I went to a tarot card reading just for fun.  It was at a psychic fair.  At the time I was still very busy in my professional career and just starting to get a hint that we might have fertility problems.  There were no doctors were involved yet.

When the person did my reading, the first six cards that turned up for me were translated by the reader to me as: baby, death, baby, death, baby, death.

Creepy x 1 million billions. Think that would have stopped me dead in my tracks?

Nope.  I didn't even think twice about it until years later.  At the time I thought it was because two of my employees had confided in me that they had miscarriages right around the same time.  I was dealing with rescheduling their work so they could have some time off.  I thought that was what the reading was referring to.

Years later, I've had two miscarriages.  The first was a twin pregnancy.  The second one I didn't get far enough along to have an ultrasound.  I've always thought it was a singleton because my HCG levels were low, and because after the fact I did some in depth research of the embryology reports, including talking to the embryologist.  Only one of two of the embryos transferred that time was a really good quality.

I'm so hoping I'm at the end of the dead baby phase of my life.

Freaky, isn't it?

Monday, 11 March 2013

The infertility scorecard

A group of my out of town girlfriends gather a few times a year.  There are 6 of us, plus kids.  Each has two children, except one who just welcomed her third.   They all know about our infertility. Most of the time when we get together,  we meet at someone's house and all of the kids play together.  Our husbands come too.  It's nice to keep in touch with them all, and I like that our hubbies all get along even though we met most of them after we became friends.

Last year, for the first time in a long time (read: since the first baby was born 7 years ago) we gathered without children.  It was my idea.  It seemed like the majority of the time when we were due for a get together, there was another baby that was born, and we were welcoming it.  There was also the odd adult-only event.  I felt slightly of awkward suggesting no kids, because I'm the one without, but they all happily agreed.  A few months down the road, we planned a weekend of drinks, a little outdoor adventure and a spa day.    

If I kept an emotional scorecard of weekends such as these I would think of them in terms of infertility hits (tolerating one too many gushing parenting stories, the odd offensive comment or watching the one woman pump breast milk every few hours) vs. the overall goodness of the weekend (great conversations, laughs and experiences). The "girls only" weekend had a very positive score.

A few weeks ago, I suggested that we all get together soon.  There is a newborn baby around, and I think it was assumed that we would all gather together with the children, because that's what we usually do.   Someone offered to host, a date was planned (which is fast approaching) and everything was great.

Until I thought about it.

Last year we gathered at the same home with all of the children.   D and I were out of our element with all of the kids around. There were 9 children under the age of 5 and one 7 year old in a confined indoor space.  = I.n.t.e.n.s.e. !   The conversation was 98% child related.   I like to think that some of the women try to make conversation about something other than their children, but invariably, it always goes back to them.  Especially when they are all buzzing around like mosquitos.

Last year, I had some hope.  After an unexpected turn of events, our doctor suggested we attempt our first IVF after four donor FETs had failed.  Hope definitely adds some bonus points to the scorecard.  However, we had experienced some losses too, as had I miscarried our twins a few short months before.  Those losses were hugely negative scorecard points.   While I didn't think in terms of scorecards then, the hope neutralized the negatives, and I thought it would be okay for us to go.

We had a nice day.  At first I thought I had survived unscathed.  Then the baby hangover started to set in.  On the car ride home, I had time to reflect.  Not a good thing. About an hour into our drive, I started to feel kind of sad and depressed.  Then I felt teary, followed by an abundant flow of waterworks  for the next hour of the drive.  For several weeks after, I had a big dark cloud over my head.  The scorecard was negative. It was just too much.

Fast forward to today.   I dropped my sister off at the airport and had some time to kill.  I decided to browse a department store.  I found myself accidentally walking through the baby isle.  Instead of running out, screaming like a banshee, I felt ok.  It made me realize that my scorecard must be positive right now.  I even would say that I felt something I hadn't in a long time... hope!

The hope I have today is very different from the hope I had last year.  It's not the same kind of  blissfully ignorant hope that I had a few years ago, before we accumulated so many infertility scars.  I've learned that it isn't just a matter of time and tries before we walk away with a baby in our arms.  Our hope is now hanging by a very fine strand.  It's hinging on Dr. Schoolcraft, my new protocol, the CCRM lab and the CCS that we have planned.

Right now I'm questioning if I could get through the day with my friends and their children.  I think I would definitely have a baby hangover afterwards, I'm just not quite how severe it would be.  I guess that would largely depend on the conversations we had, and the moments that I share with the children. D has decided he's not interested in going.

Even though I have some hope, and even though I think I could handle it, I've decided I just don't want to.  It's not worth it.  One afternoon of so-called fun and catching up isn't going to be worth risking the little bit of positivity that I've got going on.

So now the question is.... how do I get out of this event that I initiated?  The honest approach?, "I've decided it would be too much for me" or something more discreet "I'm not feeling well?".  Which by the way,  I don't view as a lie, because infertility really does make me not feel well!  Either way, I think I would need to tell my best friend of the bunch because I am babysitting her kids the next day. I don't want her worry about that arrangement.   (For that reason too I need to save some positive points on my scorecard!)

Friday, 8 March 2013

Deja vu and supporting a friend

Our friend sent us an email today.  As I read it, my heart dropped.  I got a little choked up reading the words.  They are far too close to what I could have written only a year ago.  

They had a positive pregnancy test a few weeks ago, however her HCG did not rise as they had hoped.  They had a couple ultrasounds and the gestational sac was measuring slightly behind.  The doctor could not find a fetal pole or yolk sac.   They are now awaiting another ultrasound next week to confirm a missed miscarriage.  She's stuck in between grieving and a glimmer of hope. 

These friends have struggled with infertility for a few years now.  They tried IVF but after a poor response, they chose to adopt embryos instead.  Last year, she got pregnant only to lose the baby a week after she was born prematurely.   In between dealing with their own loss and fertility treatments, they found it in their hearts to provide a foster home their nieces earlier this year, who are now back with their parents and doing well. 

They are the most loving, kind people.  The kind that you just know would make the best parents in the world.  The kind that would be loving and warm, yet be firm when they need to be.   

I knew I needed to call right away, but I felt a bit of dread before picking up the phone. I decided not to dwell on it (like I sometimes do) and to just call.  She answered, and we talked for over an hour.  I feel like the talk helped both of us. 

At the end of the call she told me she was sorry.   That she knew that this must bring up so many old painful memories for us.  I told her she didn't need to be sorry.  I told her that I was happy to help in any way that I could.  It did bring up memories, but it also makes me realize how far we've come from that low time.  I told her it reminded me that things can get better. 

We share a lot in common.  One thing is that we both hate feeling like we are always bearing bad news, and that we are bringing people down.   We also chatted about how a lot of people mean well, but don't know how to respond to people who are grieving or going through a difficult time.  

Having grieved a lot over the past couple of years, as well as watch my sister cope with her immense grief after her stroke has taught me a lot.  It has taught me about giving and receiving support.  While receiving support from people in real life continues to be difficult for me, giving support has become easier.  

Here's what I've learned so far about supporting someone in their grief:

1.  Just show up.  Make the call that's hard to do.  Visit during the hard times.  Send the email.  You don't have to know what to say or plan out your conversation in advance.  You don't have to know the right way to respond to everything the person says or does.  Just being there is huge.   

2.  Listen.   Instead of worrying what to say back, spend your time really listening to what the other person has to say.  Let them vent.  Understand what their concerns are. 

3.  Validate.  Tell them it's ok to feel they way they are feeling.  There is no such thing as invalid feelings, there are only emotions that people think they shouldn't be feeling.  All feelings are real.  Even if it's painful, and hard, and you would rather have a thousand hangovers, it's better to fully feel the emotion.  (Not fully feeling the emotion could lead to problems down the road because you haven't processed it.  Feelings won't pass until they are processed. )

4.  Don't judge.  You don't know until you've been there.  And even if you have been there, it still isn't the same as their experience. 

5.  Follow up.  Mark down important dates and appointments and contact them after to see how they are doing.   One of the best things a friend did for me after my miscarriage was to tell me that she would welcome my call I wanted, but I didn't need to.  She told me that she was going to call me (and then she did).  She didn't put the burden of keeping in touch on me.  I appreciated that a lot.  It meant something to me that she cared enough to check in on me.  That I didn't have to worry about calling her during her kid's bath times.   It was way better than her saying to me "call me anytime". 

I've still got lots to learn.  And I'm wondering what you do to "be there" for a friend?  

Thursday, 7 March 2013

So far so good

I'm on day 6 of the testosterone and estrogen protocol.  I'm happy to report that it's really not that bad!  All in all, the side effects have been very manageable.  I've got some mild acne and I've been getting headaches for about an hour or so after I take the meds.   But that's it. It hasn't been any worse than taking the DHEA.  Phew.

I think it will be interesting to see what my blood work shows after 2 weeks of this regimen.  I hope it's doing what it's supposed to.   And I hope that next month this pays off.  The research says that on average patients who tried a similar protocol got 1 to 1.5 more eggs than the control groups.

The harder part has been to keep up my exercise, supplements and healthy eating. The heathy eating has been a bit of a bust lately, there have been a few too many meals out.   I don't love taking all of supplements with each and every meal.  I am especially starting to detest the fish oil supplement.  (The others I am taking are CoQ10, prenatal and vitamin D).  The supplements are from the naturopath and are to be taken 3x per day.  I don't know when I'm going to get used to these.  I've been taking them for what feels like an eternity.  I should be used to them by now.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Testosterone freaking me out

We had just come from dinner at a friend's house on Saturday night.  She's a home gourmet and a super great cook and baker.  They are very health conscious.  They eat very healthy meals throughout the week and on the weekend they cheat.   Over dinner we had a lot of conversation about GMO foods, organics, juicing, and hormone free meat.   She made us a super yummy meal.  A shrimp dip appetizer, homemade italian wedding soup, salad, beer braised short ribs and sweet potato mash.  For dessert we had a pumpkin and cheese cake tart.  Yummy, yum, yum.  We talk photography and lots of other things, while our hubbies talk business.  We're so lucky to have them as friends.

Thinking about the toxins in our foods freaks me out.  But up until this point, I've taken the bury my head in the sand approach.  I don't think of it often and I've been too cheap to actually buy organic food.  The grocery stores where we live don't have a lot of organic options, which kind of stinks.

We share something else in common with our friends.  They also have fertility issues.  After failed ART attempts, they have been in the process of getting their home study completed for domestic adoption.  (Although side note: I don't know if they are really ready for adoption because they have been working on their home study for well over a year and still don't have it finalized.) She told me she thought there was still a chance for them to get pregnant naturally.  She turned 40 this year and they have male and female factor infertility.

We had a really nice evening with them, and then returned home.  It was my first night to begin the testosterone patches.  When I talked to the pharmacist earlier in the day, she told me she had never seen this prescribed to a woman before, or for female infertility.  She gave me the hand out that came with the patches.  She couldn't really tell me where to put the patches or much else about using it.   So, when I got home from dinner, I read the information sheet on the testosterone patches.  Nothing was earth shattering.  Except that none of it was written for a female, and it said that females aren't supposed to take it, or handle it, duh.

I had not researched anything about females taking testosterone for infertility.  I had not read any studies.   I had not  even typed the words "testosterone and female infertility" into google.  This is so not me.

I think I was blocking out everything infertility out for the past few weeks.  (Hence the lack of posting here).  This approach was working.  Until it didn't.  At midnight, after I slapped on the patch, laying in bed I started to tear up (and get super bitchy).  I am sick of taking all of these drugs.  I am sick of the side effects.  I felt overwhelmed.

I thought about our friends.  They are doing everything they can to be healthy and avoid toxins and hormones that are in minuscule amounts in their foods.  I, on the other hand do none of this, and not only that, but I purposefully and willingly expose myself to all kinds of drugs.

D told me that I shouldn't take it if I don't want to.  That we could switch back to the DHEA.  I decided to take it for the night and do the research in the morning.  But D got out of bed and did some quick research.  It seems it is not completely uncommon.  There is supportive research.  It  put my mind at ease (somewhat).

I keep telling myself that we are nearing the end of all of this.  This is it.  No more drugs soon.  I think.

Update: I found this article which summarizes the benefits of the testosterone/androgen therapy which I thought was helpful.  It's not a journal but it summarizes journal findings. It totally reduced my anxiety.

Friday, 1 March 2013

A mismash of updates

I healed really well from the surgery.  I think I healed even faster than normal.  Although I don't know if I can truly say that because I've never had a surgery with an incision on my skin before (they've been vaginal).

My incisions look like brand new skin.  I'm happy that I healed well and there was no infection.  I have been wondering if the heavy Ubiquinol (the active form of CoQ10) had something to do with this.  At Christmas time, I cut off the very tip of my finger with a knife and it also healed really fast. I had new pink skin at the end of my finger within 3-4 days.

The only side effect from the surgery was that I was having a lot of dark brown spotting.  I expected this, but after 7 days it wasn't decreasing.  I called the nurse to check.  I told her I wasn't sure if this was my period even though it was only cycle day 18.  I was confused by my body. She was very reassuring and said it was normal to have this for 7-10 days.

The very next day I got the answer to my question.  I got my period.  It's now here with a vengeance. I hate-hate-hate maxi pads and that's all they want me to use for a month.  I'll be glad when it is over.

I'll also be glad when it's over because I will be able to have sex again.  It's been years.  Or maybe it just feels like years.  I guess really it's been about 3 weeks.

The good news is that I have started my priming protocol (which I described in the comments section of my last post if you are interested).

A couple of days ago, booked my acupuncture appointments.  I can't remember if I talked about it here, but I decided to take a hiatus from them until I got closer to the embryo transfer.   I actually liked going, but I pay out of pocket for the appointments and going twice a week was $120.  I felt like it was too expensive to continue.

 After I booked my appointments, I realized that I  had completely gotten ahead of myself.  I am only going to start this before the embryo transfer to increase uterine blood flow. I felt really embarassed calling the receptionist back and cancelling all of my appointments.  I was honest with her about what happened.  I beat myself up a bit over it though.  It was a really dumb thing to do.  I know it's also dumb to beat yourself up over a little mistake, but I couldn't seem to help it.   This combined with some other stressors yesterday made me quite anxious.

Six months ago I wouldn't have been able to say what "anxious" felt like.  I didn't think I had anxiety until I filled in a survey in my family doctor's office.  Ding, ding! I won the prize with a nice high score in the anxiety department.  I thought I was going to be high in the depression category (it wasn't great either).  That led me to do some reading and also some self analysis.  I realized how anxious I really was feeling a lot of the time.  I think the stress of infertility has magnified my feelings of anxiety.